Surekha Ragavan
Dec 18, 2018

Wellington gets green light for new conference centre

The new centre is predicted to host 111 new events annually, equivalent to 16% growth for the city.

An artist's impression of Wellington's new convention centre
An artist's impression of Wellington's new convention centre

The capital of New Zealand will be getting a new conference and exhibition centre, which will begin construction next year. The 18,000-sqm space will feature 10,000-sqm of dedicated convention space spread across its top two floors and a 1,650-sqm ground-floor exhibition gallery to accommodate touring exhibitions.

The business events market is currently worth around $240 million (US$164 million) to the city and is among the most lucrative within Wellington’s tourism portfolio, according to David Perks, general manager for the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA).

“[The new centre] will enable the city to not only retain its current share of conferences but also put in bids for larger international conferences that would simply have been too big for existing venues,” said Perks. “It will put us on an equal footing with Auckland and Christchurch who both have conference venues under construction, and the Australian market where all major cities have purpose-built convention facilities.”

On top of that, the business case showed that the new space is predicted to host 111 new events annually, delivering nearly 149,000 new delegate days to Wellington. This would represent a 16% growth from the city’s current position.

“Add in the fact that the exhibition space is expected to attract over 272,000 annual visitors, generating an additional $3.8 million (US$2.6 million) in direct visitor spend in Wellington, and it’s easy to see the value the [centre] will bring to Wellington,” said Perks.

In Wellington, business visitors spend an average of average $299 (US$204) a day compared to non-business event visitors, who spend $190 each a day. This spend is spread across accommodation, transport, food and beverage, and retail.

The space is designed by Wellington-based Studio Pacific Architecture, and the design draws its inspiration from many sources including Wellington’s harbour, its wild weather, hilly landscapes, and Maori mythology, particularly Te Ūpoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui (Maui’s head of the fish). Construction is expected to take three years.


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